Polish prosecutors detain 2 in tapes leak probe

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Associated Press

Posted on June 24, 2014 at 4:02 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 24 at 10:31 AM

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish prosecutors on Tuesday detained two people and questioned two others over the release of secret recordings of conversations between top officials in a case that has severely shaken and embarrassed the government.

Among those questioned was Sylwester Latkowski, chief editor of the magazine Wprost, which recently published the recordings. He said he was questioned as a witness and handed over all of the recordings in his possession to the prosecutors, but was not pressed to reveal his source, who has requested anonymity.

Two other people were detained for questioning as suspects and another one, a restaurant sommelier, was questioned and then released, said Renata Mazur, a spokeswoman for the prosecutors in Warsaw.

Last week the manager of one of the restaurants where politicians were secretly taped was charged with two counts of eavesdropping, which is illegal in Poland and carries up to two years in prison.

Wprost on Sunday released material in which Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski says that Poland's alliance with the U.S. is worthless, a notion quickly denied by Poland's President Bronislaw Komorowski. In another recording published by the magazine, Central Bank head Marek Belka and Interior Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz are heard discussing how the bank could help the governing party win re-election in 2015, a seeming violation of the bank's independence.

Wprost has only said it obtained the recordings from a businessman.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has refused to fire the ministers who have been caught up in the scandal, saying he will not be dictated by people involved in "criminal activity."

On Tuesday Tusk's ruling coalition held a strategy meeting where they decided to wait through August for the perpetrators to be identified and charged. After that they will decide whether early elections and a change of government are needed, said Jan Bury of the peasants' party, a junior coalition member.

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